National Marine Week: Celebrating SA’s ocean life

2017-10-11 13:47 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - South Africa has recently taken huge strides in the marine tourism industry - specifically in October which is Marine Month – with 9-15 October celebrated as National Marine Week.

With local shark cage diving company, Marine Dynamics, scooping a prestigious global eco-tourism award and a report on the progress of Operation Phakisa which seeks to develop SA's ocean's economy, having both taken place in October makes for perfect-timing in Marine Month.

SEE: #OperationPhakisa: Unlocking SA's ocean economy

African Penguin Awareness Day was also celebrated on Saturday, 7 October, and Marine Dynamics is hosting events later this week to celebrate SA’s endangered marine bird.

Celebrating SA’s marine life

Penguin release

Marine Dynamics sister company, African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS), will publicly release endangered African Penguins near the Kleinbaai Tidal pool area in Gansbaai,  at 12:00 on Saturday, 14 October.

“Our tuxedo friends have been affected in the past by the removal of their eggs and guano harvesting which has ultimately led to the decline in penguin numbers. Now various threats, including overfishing in their feeding grounds, threaten their long term survival,” says APPS.

"Please remember to stand behind us, approximately 50m away [from the release]. We are raring to get back to action. We cannot wait so please do not be late," advises the Sanctuary.

SEE: African Penguin Awareness Day: How you can help save SA's endangered penguins

The Deep Blue Ambassadors of Dyer Island Conservation Trust – Marine Dynamics’ environmental project - will also be doing a play about the challenges the African penguins face today.  The play is open to the public and will take place at the Sanctuary in Gansbaai on 14 October at 13:00.

Marine Dynamics brought home the award for Shark and Whale Eco-Tourism Benefiting Conservation and Community, from the Skål World Congress, Sustainable Tourism Awards 2017.

“International recognition of the work Marine Dynamics is doing in terms of marine eco-tourism and the impact for conservation and community highlights not only the company but also South Africa and the marine species we work with - especially the Great White shark and the endangered African penguins,” says Marine Dynamics, adding that Skål is an international organisation of 84 countries and “the award contributes to highlighting sustainable tourism worldwide”.


Educating youth on the “marine big five”

Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Cruises, Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Overstrand Municipality held a competition with the schools in the Cape Whale Coast area - from Kleinmond to Gansbaai - to celebrate National Marine Month.

“The competition comprises three categories for the various age groups that include colouring-in, poetry and an essay or short film,” says Marine Dynamics.

SEE: SA's Marine Dynamics wins global sustainable tourism award

The objective of the competition is to educate students and create awareness about the ocean systems, marine environment and the company’s “marine big five”.

“In the process, the team hopes to inspire the youth to take care of our oceans and our environment,” says the company.

Entries are closed and winners will be announced by the end of October. “Dyer Island Cruises has sponsored a boat trip for the top 30 winners to provide the opportunity to see first-hand the unique Dyer Island ecosystem right on their doorstep,” adds Marine Dynamics.


Sustainable seafood

Celebrating Marine Month, Two Oceans Aquarium and WWF-SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) are joining forces to highlight the importance of making informed choices when purchasing and consuming seafood.

“Teaming up with SASSI this Marine Week provides a great opportunity to take the sustainable seafood message beyond the Aquarium and to focus on informing and empowering consumers during this month,” says Two Oceans Aquarium Communications and Sustainability Manager Helen Lockhart.

“Whether we live on the coast or in the Free State or Gauteng, as consumers we all have the power to drive change by choosing only sustainable seafood when shopping for our home or when frequenting our favourite seafood restaurant,” says Lockhart.

SEE: #WorldOceansDay: How you can make a responsible seafood choice

The Aquarium reminds us that there’s an app that can be downloaded on your smartphone and used to help you figure out if the seafood you are eating is sustainable, with the SASSI’s colour-coded seafood guide.

“This traffic light system tells you whether you can eat something with a clear conscience (green), should think twice (orange) or avoid altogether (red). The guide is easily accessible through the SASSI app or SMS the name of the seafood to SASSI's FISHMS number (079 499 8795) to help you make your informed choice. You can also check out the SASSI list online,” says Two Oceans Aquarium.

“Consumers have the power to make a real difference by consciously making greener choices when it comes to the fish they eat,” says SASSI Manager Pavitray Pillay.

“These decisions may seem small in isolation, but collectively they will make the difference as to whether we will be able to continue to enjoy seafood into the future,” adds Pillay.

Each year SASSI reviews the list. This year, one of the species that has changed from the green list to orange is the sardine due to fishing pressures on this species.

“Other species that have changed on the list are prawns, which are now listed as either orange or red, depending on the fishing methods used; squid is now on the green and orange lists; red-eye round herring is on the green list and panga has moved from red to orange,” says Two Oceans Aquarium.

What to read next on Traveller24:

#WildlifeWednesday: These African Penguins will waddle right into your heart

SA's Marine Dynamics wins global sustainable tourism award

Cabinet approves marine and coastal plan for SA Tourism